In the fall of 2001, Trinity High School became the only school in the region to offer a House System. Common in European schools, the system “places students into smaller communities to increase opportunities for student leadership and adult mentoring,” said Dr. Dan Zoeller, Trinity’s Principal.
Since its inception, students are building even closer relationships and experiencing a deeper sense of belonging. There are 10 Houses of approximately 120 students (freshmen through seniors) who remain in the same House for their full four years. Throughout the year, Houses compete in a variety of contests and competitions to encourage unity and pride. Each House has its own motto, mascot, colors, banner and student-designed T-shirt. The House System also encompasses student government at Trinity. There are nine student representatives for each House – three seniors, and two each from the junior, sophomore and freshman classes. Together, they form a vibrant and responsive student government comprising 90 students who are elected by peers to serve each year.
Part of this mission to build relationships and experience a deeper sense of belonging is to continually find new ways to achieve these goals. One of these ways is a House Unity Lunch. The lunch, created by Mr. Chad Waggoner and Trinity’s Student Government, came about as a response to a “challenge” issued by principal Zoeller. According to Waggoner, “Dr. Zoeller challenged the student government to build community during the school day. Student government responded by proposing a House Lunch Day once a semester in which Houses will have their own lunch tables and a chance for fellowship while breaking bread together.”
Senior Zach Watkins, part of the group of students who developed the idea of House Lunch Day, echoed Waggoner’s hopes of relationship building. “I see this event as a reflection of the main goal of the House System: community building,” Watkins said. “We hope this event will encourage students to branch out and meet new people within their house.”
“Our goals for this event are for our students to get to know each other better and to build new relationships within our Houses,” said Waggoner. “We are also encouraging faculty to take part in this. We believe this will strengthen and build community in our classrooms as teachers will have a chance to get to know their students better. Meanwhile, classmates will have a chance to make new friends when they meet classmates who they have not shared a class with or been together as part of a team or club.”
In keeping with the holiday spirit, Waggoner hopes that this becomes an annual tradition. “The goal is to have this once a semester around a holiday. During the fall, we wanted to be thankful for our sense of family, thus it is just before Thanksgiving. The spring event will be held around Easter.” He also hopes to continue to build the event, incorporating games and prizes in the future. “We’re hoping to have games being played in future House Lunch Days. Once we see how it works in getting folks to their respective tables with food, the plan will be for each House to compete against each other in friendly, minute-to-win-it style games.”
Senior RiLee Waggoner, another member of the Student Government who helped come up with the idea, thinks this will be another way students can find a sense of belonging. “I think something we hope to come out of this is new friendships. We hope that kids will form stronger bonds with each other. I have always been a big believer in the fact that the more involved you are at Trinity, the better it will be for you. We figured this was a great opportunity for those students wanting to get involved to find new and unique ways to get involved through their peers!”